So, after a nice rebound in “Enter the Dalek”, Doctor Who did another 180 and ventured into the campy, family-pleasing episode, “Robot of Sherwood”. I’ll admit, I was very skeptical of this episode, and I had every right to be. That being said, I gave it my full attention. My verdict? This would’ve been more suited to one of the previous three Doctors, not for Capaldi.
Don’t get me wrong, Capaldi was a clear star for this episode, but he couldn’t save it sadly. That, and the fact that this episode just didn’t seem to fit in what this season has been trying to do makes it even more disappointing.
Alas, let me backtrack and bring everything back up to speed. The good Doctor asked Clara the question that I’m sure many of us Whovians have asked at one time or another. “If you could meet one person, regardless of time or space, who would you meet?”
A deep question, one that no doubt speaks to our inner character. For Clara, it spoke to her inner child, and out came the words, “Robin Hood”. And off to Sherwood Forest we go.
As the adventure progressed, we met all the characters you’d expect from a Robin Hood adventure. All the Merry Men, the evil Sheriff, and eventually Maid Marion. Yes, there were “other” characters involved, but the core was clearly a Robin Hood story. Sadly, that was part of the problem.
Admittedly, I loved the fact that Capaldi’s Doctor did his best to disprove that Robin Hood and everything around them was a lie. Whether an illusion, mind trick, or a robot. For a while, I honestly was with him, thinking some trick or alien device was behind it all. And we were right to a degree. Thus why I said that Capaldi really did well here. His almost obsessive desire to prove this whole thing fake was brilliant. Going so far as to insert himself into certain classic Robin Hood moments to get the answers he wanted.
The problem was essentially everything else. The plot was kind of predictable (excluding the ending, which I was thought was lovely), you knew that Robin Hood would survive, especially when the “truth” was revealed. The enemies weren’t given much character, and…well, it’s a Robin Hood story, haven’t we seen this played out before?
Again, there were good moments. Like Clara showing her craftiness, the “feud” between Robin Hood and the Doctor, and the climax, which ended in a way that Errol Flynn would be very proud of. But as whole, it just didn’t feel right.
An omission I thought was curious was Missy. In “Robot of Sherwood” we find out the aliens are headed to “The Promised Land”. Sound familiar? And yet, when a scenario much like the last two episodes occurred…there was no Missy. She’s clearly important, why wasn’t she there like she was in the other episodes?
For me though, the biggest problem was that this was another Clara-centric episode. This was her fantasy, she got to go fangirl on Robin Hood, and technically save the day. And that’s all good, but we just had this in episode one of this series. If this episode was episode five or six I would’ve excused it. Change things up and all that. But after the speech the Doctor gave in “Into the Dalek” this episode just seemed to clash with what’s happened.
In the end, “Robot of Sherwood” was a fun yet uneventful take on a classic character. A happy ending was guaranteed, and I’ll admit it was very nice. But when you consider everything that’s happened, and what’s supposed to be happening, this episode was just plain filler. With this only being episode three, that’s kind of sad. Hopefully we’ll get another rebound quick.